I’ve learned of an unusual collaboration between a 3D printer manufacturer, Anycubic, and a 3D content provider, MyMiniFactory.
Normally 3D printer manufacturers operate quite independently of content providers unless they are corporately linked. For example, MakerBot makes great use of Thingiverse because they own that vast 3D model repository.
But here we have two independent operations partnering on an unusual arrangement. But first, let’s understand what both parties bring to the table.
Anycubic is a Shenzhen-based manufacturer of desktop 3D printers that has been growing notably in the past year. While their most visible products are FFF devices, they also offer a line of very good resin 3D printers. One of them, the Photon Mono X 6K, underwent extensive testing in our lab.
MyMiniFactory is a London-based online service providing a platform for 3D designers to market their intricate designs. MyMiniFactory’s business took off once low-cost, high-resolution resin 3D printers appeared on the market, as figurine designers finally had a way to sell character designs to those seeking figurines they could 3D print on their own. I discussed this in depth with MyMiniFactory’s CEO, Nebo Nikolic, back in October.
MyMiniFactory has been quite innovative in cultivating their now-large online community of designers. They offer a variety of services, including advice on model design, pricing and more to community members. Their prime revenue source these days is their crowdfunding engine that allows designers to launch new products in a manner similar to Kickstarter, except within the MyMiniFactory community. One of the more interesting recent innovations is something called “Tribes”.
It’s a way for MyMiniFactory to allow visitors to support specific designers on their platform. In other words, create a “tribe” of the designer’s followers. This is essentially a subscription offering, but it’s organized in a way to harmonize with MyMiniFactory’s methods of supporting designers, and allows direct communication with the specific designer of each Tribe.
So how does Anycubic fit into this?
In coordination with MyMiniFactory, they’ve released a one-time specialized version of their Photon Mono X 6K (the same machine we reviewed above) as the “Tribes” edition.
The Tribes Edition Mono X 6K is functionally the same as the normal edition, but it instead has quite different styling on the exterior. Anycubic explains the change:
”The Tribes Edition Mono X 6K adopted a black cover instead of a yellow one, the artwork on which called “Mandala”, a sanskrit word meaning“circle”. Mandala is used in eastern religions representing a sacred space where adepts can achieve a higher state of consciousness. Mandala on the Tribes Edition Mono X 6K was created within the same spirit. It is the symbol of a community that gathers all the people interested in 3D printing to create any kind of objects with Anycubic 3D printers and enjoy the freedom brought by that. This is the very vision of Anycubic – For Freedom to Make. Besides the unique design, the printer is exclusively branded with MMF iconic Tribes logo, bringing users this one-of-a-kind, limited-edition machine.”
MyMiniFactory is selling the Tribes Edition Mono X 6K via their standard crowdfunding engine, and as of this writing something close to 400 systems have been sold. MyMiniFactory is also bundling a few extra goodies on their service for buyers.
Meanwhile, Anycubic is also offering the Tribes Edition for sale on their official website. Both sources offer the device for US$659, which was a great deal for an excellent machine even without the very different styling in the Tribes Edition.
Apparently only 1000 units will be produced, and it seems that many have been sold by this time. Officially, the campaign will end on Thursday, January 13th at 1600UTC (that’s 11AM ET). If you’re interested in this model, you’d best get over to one of the two sources right away.
This is a highly unusual partnership where a design brand has made its way into hardware design. I’m very interested to see how this arrangement succeeds, because if it does we may see quite a number of 3D printers sporting custom branding.
We may also see resin 3D printers with black housing instead of the ubiquitous orange, and that alone is a good step forward in machine design.